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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

would we have seen more news coverage? In and among sports updates, weather reports and other usual news on any given day, was 15 seconds (or so it seemed) enough for what appeared to be a pretty sophisticated bomb found in a backpack along a Martin Luther King parade route in Spokane Washington? I almost didn’t catch it and waited for further information, but none appeared during that particular news hour.

Searching the internet, I found several stories including this brief on Reuters.  I wondered at the seemingly lack of news coverage. Was it because it was in Spokane and not New York city? Was it the fact it was found along a parade route honoring Martin Luther King and not, dare I say, Ronald Reagan or the allegedly soon to be sainted Pope?

This morning I found I wasn’t alone in my questioning. The Maddox Blog had a post, “The mystery of the Spokane bomb.” I was glad to see it, but honestly, it made me angrier that my unease of “lack of coverage” seemed to be validated.  As one of the commenters to a news story said (and quoted in the Maddox blog post), ” I personally think that to be just a LITTLE more newsworthy than Sarah Palin trying to paint herself as the true victim of Tucson.”

Could you find an act more of hatred and racism than placing a bomb along a Martin Luther King parade route on a day honoring his work and philosophy? Could you not have paid this domestic act of terrorism the same attention as you did the football games? Oh wait, maybe if the bomb had gone off…

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A beautiful day yesterday, now only in memory as the summertime starts up with humidity hitting the airwaves.  I’ve learned the trick of adjusting (somewhat) to the DC metro area. Make sure to spend a bit of time in the humidity and not just hide behind an AC somewhere. The more time you can spend outside, the more your body becomes adjusted and the next summer you find you can last a little longer before the “enough already” sets in and you run into the nearest building. If you are a tourist fortunately there are plenty of museums, free ones at that, which offer coolness and even refreshments to help you cool down.

But then there are those nights that you want to brave the humidity and get caught up in fun and rhythm and music to keep your toes tapping or even dancing. Not too far from DC, on the Maryland side is a town called Silver Spring that offers great music for free from June through August. A few examples of the types of live music being showcased this summer include: rock & roll, oldies – 50’s and 60’s, Celtic, jazz, blues from Spain, salsa, reggae, pop, funk, soul, bluegrass, West African, rock and zydeco. Phew, I am mopping my brow with a smile on my face already.

In addition to the wonderful music, the offerings include SilverDocs, “an eight day internationally recognized film festival that celebrates independent thinking and generates global media attention.”  The other thing about the SilverDocs movies (over 100) – you are inside in the cool AC, so if the heat or humidity is too high, and you want to see the unusual, this event is for you.

Downtown Silver Spring has a bunch of other activities, from books to booze (there is a relationship in there somewhere). I know most folks spend the majority of their time going to the beaches, driving hours in congested traffic, waiting in airports, in hotel lines, or even on the spare couch cushion at your cousins. But if you are in the DC Metro area or are just visiting, get away from the usual “spots” and go visit a fun place that’s only minutes away.  I know I will.

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I remember the first Mother’s Day after my mom had passed away, I felt a bit lost and saddened when I realized I didn’t need to go looking for the usual Mother’s Day card. I didn’t have to go get groceries for the meal she chose, or get the present I thought she wanted. There was no Internet at the time, no last minute Amazon to overnight something, no 1-800 number to order Flowers. Either you planned ahead and mailed early or made sure you were going to be with her – otherwise, it was the dog house for sure.

I remember it was the gift giving that was especially hard. My dad – Old Spice, every year rain or shine. My mom, oh no, nothing that simple. In fact she made it harder by saying she wanted something from you that wasn’t “material”, but rather a promise that you would or wouldn’t do “x” this year. The X Factor I called it long before the term became popular for other reasons, always seemed to have some little guilt to it, which made it seemingly unbearable even in its “goodness.” I did find a web site  article on the art of giving memories, which I wish I had known when mom was still here. She would have loved it and I would have breathed a sigh of relief as it mixes love and memory without guilt.

There are other mothers I would honor, some in person, some in memory. You didn’t have to be my actual mom to act like the wise elder I thought mothers should be.  Political mothers are present more than ever, I make sure to read “PunditMom” often for example.  In browsing, I found Australians are focusing on government child care initiatives as we are here in the States, urging folks to  support paid sick days to keep families healthy by making sure to tell their Congresspeople to pass pending legislation. Global sentiment is also growing as I found the opportunities to buy a gift for mother available in many languages – commercialism vs. sentiment I fear.

Sentimental, political, or obligatory, Mother’s Day is coming — are you ready?!

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There have been an increasing number of articles written over the years of the commercialism of Feb 14th, otherwise entitled, Valentine’s Day. How the florist industry hypes it for the obvious reasons, in partnership with the chocolate industry. Men in particular seem to gripe the hardest, protesting as to the “why focus on one day” when love can be expressed all year long.

In my usual unofficial, unscientific survey mode I asked both men and women friends about Valentine’s Day. All agreed it was too commercial, however almost to a tee, most of the women laughed and responded with if only men showed love all year long, they wouldn’t have to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

The conversation then shifted to how men seemed oblivious to the simple showing of affection, that a simple flower at an unexpected moment, a small token depending upon interest (a book, a movie, a cd) brightens any day not so designated (i.e VD or birthday). I asked the men if being on the receiving end of such things was as important to them as it appeared to be to the women and almost all said no initially, but then yes in reflection. However, their desired token was more of recognition of a chore completed without having to be asked, of a kiss received unexpectedly, of a (always described humorously) reward of a “romp in the hay”.

I found the longer a couple had been together, the less they focused on the individual gift, but more the gift of need, for the house, their family, the vacation. The economic environment was reflected even amongst the humor of the responses; saving for that feared rainy day also included in answers.

Appreciation seems to be the key here in and amongst the “sure we love each other” quick answer. Appreciation for the simple “putting up with who I am”, for the small, everyday tasks that often get unrecognized, and for the big issues handled together. Imagine if partners did that for each other daily and expanded it beyond themselves, family, friends to others we all interact with sometimes only for minutes in our busy worlds.

So, here’s  to those in my life who I may not appreciate as much as I should. To my family, friends, colleagues, and those who impact my life in ways I don’t even realize. And today, a special moment of appreciation to those of you who take the time to contribute to a cause, helping others even when money is tight. Thank you and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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As long as I can remember, around New Year’s, came the ads for participating in the Publishers Clearing House prize drawing to win a million dollars – or I think it’s $5,000 a week for the rest of your life these days.  Used to be these ads would come in the mail, now they come via the mail, radio, tv and internet. And they are still as tempting as ever.

Except. . .

Except now people are more savvy in marketing tactics. They understand that providing the PCH folks with your demographic information (address, age, etc) is even more important to them than signing up for any magazine.

That they can use this information to sell your name on a list other companies buy, to the tune of a lot more than $5,000 a week I would imagine. That in essence you have “given permission” for them to use your information since you took the active act of signing up, even if in your own mind it was just to win a prize or buy a magazine, not sell your information to all the bidders, not just the highest one.

But, hey, that may be okay by you. The chance of winning lots of money motivates a lot of people to do things they may not otherwise have done. I, for one, love to play the slot machines on occasion and do buy a lotto ticket when the winning number gets high. I even went to the pch.com web site, but thanks to the internet and experiences therein, paused before I even clicked the first “enter here”.

Unlike putting cash into those slot machines (whose odds of winning are slim at best), I am about to give away, in writing, information for others to use — all for the chance of “winning”.   Even with that first “enter” click, well, we all know what can be traced back to you from that simple act alone.

I’ll keep my privacy, thanks, but good luck to you if you do enter. We all could use “winnings” these days.

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As a child, I was allowed to stay up until midnight to drink sparkling cider and cheer as we watched the crystal ball in Times Square drop on TV. There are other holidays I remember with more clarity simply because I would often fall asleep and had to be wakened in time to cheer and go to bed. I never admitted to dozing however, a point of pride for the one “adult” activity I in which I participated.

Then there was the year my dad and I actually went to Times Square on New Year’s Eve. We started off the evening having dinner in Sardie’s, where all the celebritys went, proof being their pictures on the wall as none was sighted that night (no fools were they). We then went out amongst the thousands cheering, drinking crowd (pre 9-11) and as I was still to young to drink, simply cheered with the best of them as “the ball” went down. Getting home via the train was not nearly as exciting as anticipated as all those thousands were now standing room only crowds being more obnoxious than cheering or getting sick with abandon everywhere. I never did tell that part of the story bragging to my friends later.

And then there were the years I worked as a counselor at a residential treat ment center for juvenile delinquents and took the New Year’s shift as getting off for Christmas was more important to me.  We’d sit around watching that ball drop via TV and they’d be telling stories of getting drunk, of ripping of other drunks, of popping pills, etc, in past years. There was a young prostitute (around 14 if I remember right) who told the story of how she and her “colleagues” would find that night easiest to pick up those 10 minute tricks who would pay anything to “get some” on this particular holiday. While my face showed the expected nonchalance, I was horrified listening and finally understood the impact of parents who didn’t care or who weren’t there and realized how lucky I really was.

I still like other holidays better as far as going someplace and celebrating. New Year’s is “amateur’s night out” and I’d rather be home than on the roads. The TV is still on, cheers and toasts with champagne given and depending upon whom I’m with, occasionally will jump off the couch for good luck, a tradition started when we read about how they do this in Spain (one wonder’s if they do, but we adopted it as our own anyway). With so much facing us in the year to come, there will be reflection as well this year, but I have a feeling I’ll be reverting to my youth as I’ll fall asleep after that last chime of midnight fades. I’ll leave contemplation for tomorrow when I start my annual thought struggle of whether to create resolutions or not.

Happy New Year to all!

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